If YOU DON'T LIKE CHEATING FIC'S, STEER CLEAR.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED... SO HEED IT.
You're forewarned that Christian does cheat in this story but there will be a HEA, it just might not be the one you expect...
NEVER LOOK BACK.
ANA... PRESENT DAY
As I jump on the sidelines of the school soccer field with my family, enthusiastically cheering on my son,
I marvel at how much he has grown and how time has passed by so quickly...
I marvel at how my son, who is now nearly fifteen years of age, hasn't seen his father since he was two years old...
I marvel in recollection at how quickly my life changed... How in a matter of weeks, my whole life was so completely different...
I marvel at how one impulsive trip to the marina of Seattle changed everything for me in an instant. But most of all,
I marvel with a smile, because given half a chance... I wouldn't change...
One... Single... Thing.
My smile stays firmly in place as I recall a time long ago, when things were so, so different, when I was different, when I was once married, to Christian Trevelyan Grey.
It was coming up to our three year wedding anniversary, and I wanted to get Christian a gift that would really mean something to him. I had arranged to have a painting commissioned of his pride and joy, The Grace.
I had decided to have the painting done by a new up and coming local artist that Christian had been raving on about. Christian had gone to an art exhibition of his a few months earlier, and he had spoken highly about the artist ever since. He even purchased a few pieces of his work to have displayed in Grey House, he was that impressed.
I was supposed to attend the event with Christian that evening but Teddy wasn't feeling too good, and I didn't want to leave my restless and unhappy boy with Gail, he needed his mom. So I stayed at home and Christian went alone.
After meeting secretly with the artist and arranging the commission, I got a phone call from him a few days later asking for a few more photographs of the boat, just to help finish off a few last minute details.
So, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, after attending the gym with Kate and while Teddy was safe with Gail, I decided to head to the marina and take some photos of Christian's fabulous boat in all of her glory.
And that is where and when, my life changed dramatically in an instant.
Who knew... That one little idea and visit to the marina... Would change my life forever.
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO.
As I pull into the marina, I allow my car to slow to a crawl. I scan the moorings and feel the frown take over my face as I notice the absence of Christian's wonderful boat. Why is the boat not here? Christian never mentioned it being moved or having any work done to her.
I pull up into the closest parking space not needing to get any closer to the water's edge, and as my mind ponders over the absence of the boat, I take my phone from my purse and dial Christian. After two unanswered attempts I do the next best thing and call Andrea.
"Hi Andrea, it's Ana, could I speak to Christian for a Sec, he isn't answering his phone" I ask cheerfully, as Andrea picks up my call and clears her throat,
"Sorry Ana, Mr Grey is in a very important meeting he can't be disturbed at present" Andrea answers, sounding deadpan as if she is reading from a script. I frown in confusion at her tone, "His meeting, will no doubt run rather late but I will get him to call you as soon as he is available" she assures me, but I hear the tremor in her low voice,
"Thank you Andrea" I answer automatically, my frown deepening,
"Is there anything else I can help you with Ana?" Andrea asks politely,
"No thank you Andrea" I mumble, "Oh wait, do you know if The Grace has been moved to a different mooring?" I ask quickly before she hangs up,
"I've no idea Ana, sorry, I will have Mr Grey call you" and with that the line goes dead.
I bite on my lip suddenly worried by her tone, there was definitely an undercurrent of something with her, Andrea is usually a little more chatty. She must be having a bad day, I know that Christian is not the easiest person to work for.
As I stare at my phone, I decide to call Jason. After a very brief conversation, were he confirms that Christian is indeed, in an important meeting and can't be interrupted, my worries ease a little. Jason was a bit dismissive on the phone but he sounded cheerful enough, I could tell by the background noise that he was driving, so our call was short. He was so efficient, I never even got to ask about the boat.
As I place my phone back in my purse, I pull out the camera that I bought Christian on our honeymoon and start to scroll through the stored photos, hoping to see if there are any of The Grace that I can pass over to the studio.
As a car passes by me I automatically glance up and my eyes widen as I notice that it's Jason in the SUV. Jason doesn't notice me or my car as he quickly drives by. I'm now flanked on either side by other parked cars that have obviously brought diners to the many restaurants situated at the marina. With a bright smile, I realize that the boat must now be on her way back into the marina.
I'm just in time.
With the camera poised, I look through the viewfinder and scan the horizon for the boat. With the help of the high zoom lens, I instantly see The Grace come into view. She looks magnificent soaring across the water effortlessly.
As the boat approaches, my face beams at the glorious sight. Oh, I love being on that boat. As she glides over the waves majestically I start snapping photos and I smile brightly as I recall all of our amazing time spent on-board. I notice that Mac is at the helm, but Christian is nowhere in sight.
As the boat gets closer, I see Christian suddenly start to emerge from the lower deck, he's shirtless and is looking totally godly. I feel myself swoon with a sigh at the sight of him, but can't help but feel just a little disappointed, because I wasn't included in this outing.
As I zoom in with the camera and look closer at him, I see that he's laughing wildly, looking totally carefree and happy, and I sigh happily. Being free on the water always has this effect on him. We really should make time to do this more often.
When Christian appears fully into view, I notice him holding onto a woman's hand, he's pulling her laughing form along with him onto the deck of the boat. She's a pretty little brunette and like Christian, she is clad only in shorts and a loose flowing floral shirt. She is holding what appears to be Christian's T-shirt.
My jaw drops as I stare totally stunned, my brain and body shocked to the core when they start to fool around playfully. They're fighting over his T-shirt, they laugh together as he tries to grab his T-shirt from her hands, she teases him, hiding it behind her back before laughing up at him.
I watch with wide eyes and a heavy hear as he takes her in his arms. He pulls her in close to him and while she is distracted with their long intense kiss, he pulls the T-shirt free from her hands and laughs long with her as he pulls it on over his head. I watch speechless as she helps him by pulling the shirt over and down his front, and I notice with disdain that her hands freely trail his chest.
My euphoric and wistful feelings are quickly forgotten and long gone, as I try to fight the bile now rising up into my tightening throat. I feel my heart constrict tightly and my head starts to swim as the pounding of my heart reaches my ears and deafens me.
Christian takes the woman's hand once again and pulls her to the front of the boat. He helps her up onto the railings and holds her arms out wide. The rush of air and excitement she must be feeling is something I know well, as I have been in that position many times with Christian and it's exhilarating. But now it causes my heart to break.
Christian wraps his arms around this woman as she screams into the wind, and my whole body sags as I notice Christian pushes his hands up and under her shirt. She arches her back into him as he kisses and nuzzles into her neck and it hits me like a smack in the face as I watch how happy... And in love they seem.
Mac looks on totally impassive to their public display of affection, he's just enjoying his command of the boat. As he steers The Grace safely into the marina his eyes are totally focused on his task, as always.
While I have been watching, utterly transfixed, I now realize that my finger has been moving constantly and I've absent mindedly been clicking the camera, capturing their entire show. I'm thankful suddenly as I feel too shaken, to accurately remember all that I've just seen and witnessed.
I don't take my eyes off the playful pair as they leave the boat and head for the awaiting SUV. As they approach the car, Taylor shakes his head with a chuckle, then seems to smile at the deliriously happy couple. As Christian sweeps her up bridal style into his arms, they both duck into the SUV back seat and Taylor closes the door behind them. I realize sadly... That their fun... Is far from over.
My heart hardens and drops further at not only Christian's heart-breaking actions, but also with Jason's treachery and deceit. I recall all my interactions with Jason over the last couple of years, and I truly thought he was my friend, that he was part of my family. But he has just blatantly lied to me on the phone and... I gasp painfully as I wonder if Gail, also knows about all of this. I feel the sting in my eyes of betrayed tears, but I refuse to let them fall.
I'm too stunned to cry. I feel to frozen, to numb, to dead inside.
I can feel the pain tightening, creeping about inside, crippling my stomach, constricting my chest, then rising and gripping my throat painfully, my eyes burn, but I won't let the world know of my pain by shedding useless tears.
I can't understand what this means, how this has even happened. What is this? And who is she? But there pointless questions, in my shattered irreparable heart, I know...
I have obviously just witnessed my husband, the man who I thought loved me more than anything else, the father of my son, the man I vowed to spend the rest of my life with... Is being unfaithful, he's cheating on me.
I know that I've not seen them do anything more than just kiss and cuddle, but I know Christian... I know my husband... And sex, is a big part of his 'communication' and as I have just witnessed, he definitely hasn't finished 'talking' to her yet. That's plainly obvious and I'm not staying around to watch and listen.
It hits me suddenly and painfully, that no matter what scenario this is, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter who she is, or for how long this has been going on, or even how it happened, or even why. Even though, those questions do burn and yearn to be screamed, I will never ask them.
It's happened, he's been with someone else, he is sharing things with her, that were once only ours... And that's enough for me.
As the SUV passes by me, I instinctively duck down into my seat trying to hide, but it's unnecessary, Taylor's eyes are focused on the road and I know that Christian and his passenger will be busy and not be paying attention to the surrounding scenery.
I place the camera on the passenger seat and stare blindly at the open water, I can't bring myself to look back at the boat, all my glorious memories are now tainted and banished by new images, thanks to my so called husband.
After sitting paralyzed, for I don't know how long, I finally take a few deep breaths to clear my minds swirling thoughts, and I know what I have to do.
With a stronger determination that I thought I was capable of, I begin to head home. I can't help the mournful huff that leaves me, at that depressing thought.
Home... Home... It just doesn't have the same ring to it now. Home, is supposed to be where your heart is, but mine now, will forever be here, bobbing, drowning, sinking to the bottom of the ocean before me.
I drive home blindly on autopilot, my mind still racing with a million different scenarios and outcomes for all of this. A million feelings and emotions battling within me. As I near the house, I gulp painfully as I notice that the SUV is absent and it hurts to know that he obviously hasn't had enough of her yet.
Once inside the house, I'm greeted as usual by Gail, she smiles brightly informing me that Teddy is already fed, bathed and down for the night. She informs me that dinner will be ready shortly but after hearing from Jason, she passes on the message that, Christian will be working late and for me not to wait up.
I thank her, refuse dinner, then dismiss her. I can't be around her at the minute, like Jason, I regard her as a true friend, we have gotten close over the years and if I start to quiz and study her too deeply, I will only hurt more if she lies to me.
As my depression deepens, my resolution strengthens.
Heading upstairs, I seek out my comfort, my reason for living, my inner calm, the person that holds me together and means the world to me. I thought that those feelings applied to Christian also... But sadly, no longer.
Creeping silently into my son's room I climb onto his small bed, lay beside him and I hug his sleeping form. As he snuggles into me I fight the tears that want to pour, but they're not my tears this time, I'm fighting against crying for the boy in my arms. The boy who will never see his true father again, because it has to be that way.
Christian will no doubt adjust the novelty of his son will soon wear off, just as I have. It won't be hard for him, he's already stepping back, doing less with him. He's been less involved with Teddy over the past few months, he hasn't even been around that much, now that I think about it fully. This isn't his first so called, 'late night... Working' he's had recently. So it's his loss but for my Teddy, it's a good age to detach, he's young enough that his father can easily be forgotten.
After a few hours of basking in the comfort of my son, I leave his room quietly and head back down to the kitchen. I grab my bag and laptop and head to my office. Once seated, I quickly download all the photographs I have taken and email all the shots, not containing Christian and his friend, to the artist. I then save all the others to a memory stick before deleting all traces of them from the camera and my laptop.
Once done, I take a deep breath and pull up the live CCTV cameras from Escala. My laptop has all the software from our home and office computers, so I can work from anywhere and do just about anything. With a heavy heart, I notice that there sits, the SUV.
We still have the apartment, we still go there when we can, at the beginning it used to be regular, every other Saturday night, but those visits have dwindled over time. I can count on one hand, how many times we have been there over the past few months.
Is that how long it's been going on?
I swallow the putrid taste in my mouth as I think of our most recent times there and envision her there now. My imagination conjures up images and they start to overlap and blur, me into her. I know first hand what Christian likes to do in Escala, in our playroom, in his playroom. So I don't have to think too hard about what they will be doing, because I've lived it.
I think back over the last six months, realizing that I haven't noticed the subtle changes in him, in our relationship. Even though we are both very busy, especially since I went back to work, I never noticed the growing distance. I've been blindsided by the fact that we are still very much intimate, but sex has always been important to Christian.
Thinking back now with cause, I notice that our lunch time hook ups are less frequent, our dining out is only business dinners of late, our quiet times alone together have been less frequent. He's always so busy, and now I know why.
I select the overview of the Escala CCTV and as the six little in-house cameras come onto the screen, I avert my eyes. I drop down the tab on my laptop, not wanting to look at their intimate interaction footage just yet, but not before I press record.
Still fighting back the hurt and controlling my emotional tears, I concentrate with a determined resolve and head to our bedroom. What a joke. Heading into the bathroom, I notice the bedside clock reads 9.30pm. Unsure of how much time alone I still have, I quickly strip off all my clothes and jump into the shower not even allowing the water to heat fully. I hold my head under the warming spray and hold the tiled wall for support. I breath deep controlled breaths, determined that I won't let my tears fall.
I fight with myself to stop thinking about all of this, I fight relentlessly with my emotions. I need to calm myself, recoup, take stock, I can't let him know that I know, I need a distraction. I need my son.
Once dried and dressed for bed, I sit quietly in Teddy's room just watching over him. I match my breathing to his, allowing his shallow even breaths to calm me. After I don't know how long, I finally hear the SUV approach the house and the darkness suddenly lights up as the headlights scan over the room. Placing a kiss on my son's brow, I quickly run from the room and head to bed. I know for sure, that I have time to get into bed and settle, Christian always goes to his office for a while before bed. And tonight, for that, I'm thankful.
I don't want to confront him, I don't want him to be forewarned of my knowledge. He will know soon enough, but for now, I must stay calm, I must hold my tongue.
It's just after midnight when Christian finally walks into the bedroom. He heads quietly straight to his closet, where he places down his gym bag and grabs his nightwear. Once he has everything he closes the door behind him and nips into the bathroom. He changes quickly and I notice that he virtually skips across the room to get into bed.
Instantly, his familiar warm safe arms are wrapped around me tightly, he pulls me back towards him and as my back meets his pounding chest, his lips meet my neck and his hands start to roam. As always, he's the same loving attentive man I thought was mine, he is the same every night as we share this bed, that's why I had no clue, no hint, that he was even up to something, how could you possibly think your partner was cheating on you, when they are this loving, this attentive.
That's why it hurts so much.
I feel like such a fool, I was so blind so oblivious to everything... But not any more.
"I missed you baby" his usual loving self purrs against my neck, his lips and hands begin caressing. Automatically my body quivers in response to his voice and actions, and I hate my body and myself for being so weak for responding to him so easily.
"Did you really?" I whisper, then bite my lip sharpish, not allowing myself to say anything else.
"Every single second" he replies with a love filled sigh, just like always.
He lies so easily, acts so perfect, and I feel foolish and sick to my stomach for believing his past lies and manipulative hands.
"I'm sorry baby, but I have another late business conference tomorrow, so I won't be home for dinner, but I will make it up to you this weekend, I promise" he kisses and nuzzles and I just allow his hands to explore.
I sink into despair as my body responded to him, he caresses and teases, does all the things that he knows I love. But he's not doing this out of love, I know that now... This is purely guilt.
I don't think about where his hands, his tongue, his body... Has already been tonight. I don't picture the acts they have already done together, acts which we, will now be repeating.
As I fight back the tears, the anger, the revulsion, the urge to claw his eyes out, I surrender completely and allow my involuntary instinct for him to just take over. I close my eyes tightly and switch off my brain as I fall head first into our lovemaking. I allow him to do what he wants, what I need him to do. As I know deep down, that this... Is the last time I will ever do this with him.
This is the last time... I will ever feel him, smell him, taste him, touch him, yield to him.
Throughout the entire physical pleasure of our final act together, my mind is closed off as I try not to think, or picture, all the other times that he has followed this once perfect routine with me and now also with his new... Friend. After a surprisingly not so quick round of vanilla, he pulls me close into his chest with a mumbled, "I love you so much baby" he kisses my forehead softly, before quickly falling asleep.
My heart is silently breaking as I picture the man here beside me and the man I saw today. I hide a sad melancholy sigh, as I realize my life with him is truly over.
I lay totally still, not moving a muscle and just wait for him to fall asleep and be out for the count, and it doesn't take long. The sea air has no doubt gotten to him, plus, I know he's had a very busy, very energetic day.
I free myself from his tight embrace and roll myself to the edge of the bed, I grab my night gown and pull it back on and I just sit and watch him sleeping. I hide the sickening chuckle that wants to escape my lips at the memory of all the times he's sat here, just watching me sleep.
My mind is racing and once again I feel stunned, torn, repulsed. I try to beat it down not wanting or allowing the justifiable anger and pain to hit me, but my body takes over my mind and the bile rises in my throat, and as my chest tightens painfully I feel the nausea rise and I run to the bathroom, reaching the toilet just in time to retch.
I sit on the cold tiled floor hugging my knees to my chest and despite myself, I start to think back over the last few years. Life has been good, or so I thought. I can't find the catalyst for how this has happened, the reasons why just don't make sense. Why would he do this? Why would he need to? Does he not love me anymore?
That's a stupid thought as I have seen today with my own two eyes, how much he truly loves me. I thought we were happy, content, a family. Our sex life is good, we don't argue, I thought our marriage was true and untouchable, well for me it was... I know now for sure, that the same cannot be said for him.
I lift myself up from the floor and head over to the sink, after swilling out my mouth and brushing my teeth, I catch sight of Christian's discarded clothes sticking out of the clothes hamper. I head over, looking for what I'm not sure, clues that I might have been overlooking, because up until today, I never thought this could ever happen. I thought he was happy with me, we met, fell in love, created our own little family. I thought we were settled. What a fool I now feel.
I take hold of the crisp white shirt that he went to work in this morning, the one he didn't have on when he was on the boat. I pull it out of the hamper and take in every square inch of the material, but there's nothing, its still perfect, no obvious lipstick marks on the collar, like you would see in the movies, no evidence at all. I pull it too me and sniff deeply with closed eyes, trying to improve my sense of smell, but nothing, no foreign smelling perfume, it still smells freshly laundered, which only proves he hasn't worn it for very long. I stuff it back into the hamper and head over to his suit that's hung up on the back of the bathroom door, once again, there is nothing to give away what he has been up to today.
I open the bathroom door after switching off the light and head quietly towards his closet, I notice his gym bag and with nerves and shaking fingers, I slowly pull open the zip.
I pull out his clothes and follow the same ritual as before, his T-shirt and shorts look as expected, nothing out of the ordinary but as I breathe deeply, I can smell the faint tinge of the sea mixed with a very subtle hint of coconut. My brow furrows as I know the bathroom on the boat, or Escala, houses no such body wash or soap, so it must be the smell of her.
My heart pounds and my throat constricts once again. Why am I even doing this? I don't need to torture myself anymore, I have all the proof I need.
I saw him.
Despite everything, I dig deeper into his bag and pull out a pair of boxers, his boxers, the ones I picked out for him. The ones I bought for him as they're small, black and sexy. With closed eyes and a painful breath, I shockingly hold them up to my nose and as the smell fills my nostrils, I nearly vomit once again.
They smell of him... That musky smell that is so Christian engulfs me.
I open my eyes and notice the staining easily against the black fabric on the inside and with hatred fueling me, I stuff everything back into his bag. I zip it back up, giving no clue that I have been anywhere near it.
Filled with heartbreak and disgust I climb back into bed, leaving as much space as possible between us. I stare at the wall opposite blindly as my mind churns and dredges, all the while listening to the even contented breathing, of my so called husband.
As I wake to a new day, I notice the bed is still warm, the heavy presence of my husband is cocooned around me. Why does he seek me out subconsciously? Even in sleep he clings to me. His head is on my chest and his arms are wrapped tightly around me, his leg is over my hip securing me to him. I turn my head to look at his face and my heart drops painfully.
He is so handsome... He looks so beautiful. He's caught the sun on his face, he's almost glowing and as always in sleep, he looks so peaceful. I feel my gut twist.
I try to move away from him but he murmurs softly to himself while pulling me closer. I notice a small smile play on his lips as his eyes move rapidly under their lids. He begins to murmur and holds me tighter and instinctively my hand rises, my fingers start to run softly through his wonderful messy hair.
I feel the sadness flood me as I know that I will never do this again. His grip tightens as his mutterings become more vocal, my body freezes under him as his sleepy unprotected words reach my ears.
"Oh Ana baby... Hhumm Jess..." he breathes into my neck, as my fingers continue to move of their own accord. I'm horrified and hurt by his unconscious slip, but the masochist in me needs more.
"I'm here baby" I coo in an alien voice as the hurt drops my tone an octave Lower, and the smile that creeps onto his slumbering face breaks my heart but only fuels my resolve.
After feigning sleep and lingering in the shower, I successfully avoid Christian and he heads out to work, with loving words passed on by Gail and his apologize once again for his absence tonight.
I breathe as the pretense is finally over, I can now relax and unsmile my face, I can now darken and tighten my eyes. I can allow my fists to clench and my mind to plot.
A few hours later, I settle Teddy in his room for his nap and head to my office to spend some time with my laptop. Curling up in my chair protectively, I prepare to view my marriage ending. Feeling sick to my stomach and shaking from head to toe, I breath and prepare.
I open up my laptop and pull up the recorded footage from last night, and as the tears unknowingly and silently start to fall. I press play and I watch with devastation as there time together unfolds.
Christian and this Jess are curled up on the sofa in front of the roaring fire, they're kissing. A bottle of wine and two glasses sit on the low coffee table in front of them alongside two used dinner plates. The lights are low and the dancing fire lights up the room beautifully. As it always does. My eyes tear up and the pain grips me as I study there perfect night together.
I balk at the scene that he's set for her, knowing only too well, how this has played out and reached this point, it's so familiar I can almost taste it.
Studying her properly for the first time I notice with a heavy heart that she is my doppleganger, same hair, same features, same build, maybe a bit thinner and she does look a little younger, but definite similarities. The bile rises quickly in realization he's replaced me with a younger, fresher, more available model.
As my teary eyes start to blur a movement on the screen catches my eye and brings my focus back. I watch wide eyed, feeling more than dead inside as this Jess moves swiftly to straddle him with her bare perfectly shaped legs, which are on display for all to see as she is wearing one of Cristian's shirts, and not much else.
With the clarity of a slap around the face, I realize that she is no sub, it is so obvious, with her free moving hands and actions. She hasn't signed a contract, she's not following any rules, she has no restrictions, they are both running on instinct and feelings, it's written all over them by the way they touch.
I watch stunned as she peppers his face and neck with swift little kisses, Christian's face just beams. I try and take her in but I can't focus on her, my eyes are constantly drawn to Christian. He suddenly takes hold of her face and kisses her deeply, then his hands slowly and possessively, start to slide all over her body.
I physically double up with the pain as I take him in, he is wearing only his boxers, the black ones he has zipped away in his closet in his little bag of lies, the ones that gave me insight and unneeded proof of his betrayal.
I watch sickeningly transfixed as his hands slowly start to open the buttons on his shirt. As her head and eyes roll backwards, due to the feeling of anticipation she is no doubt feeling, the feeling that I know so well, I feel my skin crawl.
As he pushes the shirt free from her shoulders to reveal her perfect form, he says something to her before his arms circle her tightly. His face eagerly heads for her ample perfect chest, her bra giving her an enviable cleavage which he burrows himself into fervently. Her arms encircle him as her hands start to claw at his hair.
My arms wrap around myself tightly, keeping my insides intact. My chest is pounding and I can feel the nervous sweat and shiver run wild all over my body. My throat is so tight that it's painful, and I know it would be impossible to swallow without choking at this point.
I grip myself tighter with shaking arms as I watch Christian stand up, the woman clinging tightly to him, kissing him wildly.
Her legs suddenly slide from him to rest on the floor but his hands remain firmly pressed to her perfect, pantie clad behind. She takes hold of his hands and pulls them free from her, and as they pull apart she says something and heads away from him. He stands firm. She turns with a smile and still holding his hand, she pulls him with her two hands, but he refuses to budge. She looks up at him sweetly and whispers to him, and I see his resolve fail at her unheard words and teasing gestures and he steps towards her with an eager stride.
She pulls him with excited eyes towards the stairs, the stairs which lead to the room I thought was only for us, but as Christian heads to them with her, I know that was a lie on his part and wasted hope and belief on mine.
Halfway up the stairs, Christian pulls up short and tugs her sharply to him, she stumbles backwards into his arms and effortlessly he sweeps her up into his no doubt warm, bridal style embrace. I watch his lips move as he says something to her and she nods with a sweet smile. He turns sharply on the stairs and heads quickly back down.
I can't help the sob that escapes my lips and almost strangles me, as I know where their time together finally ended. Where they shared their last encore. Before I got a repeat, if not a slightly edited repeated performance, only a few hours later. I snigger disdainfully at his never waning stamina.
As Christian heads to the room that once was our bedroom, I know that more vanilla is what he craves, what he now craves from her. Despite her eagerness to participate in the now vile room at the top of the stairs, he chose the closeness, the physicality of no restraints, no rules, no boundaries with her. He chose to touch... He chose her touch.
I feel what's left of my heart shatter violently.
She is not just a sexual pastime for him, her free and unrestrained actions prove that he has no walls up with this woman. They have a relationship. I know now without a shadow of a doubt, that the painful decision I have made will never change. It never could.
There is nothing he could ever say to me, to take away this feeling. This sickening twisted pain I feel will be ingrained deeper, more everlasting, every single time I have to look at him. Everytime I look into those mesmerizing gray eyes of his, I will no doubt picture what I have just witnessed and that will ultimately cripple me if I let it.
I can't do that, to myself, or to my son.
I love him, need him, want him... But... I hate him, and for that reason, I can't stay here no matter how much I love and yearn for him. Love is not enough...
Love can make you blind, stupid, gullible. It can make you accept and endure things you could never of imagined going through. It can Make you compliant and weak.
Well... Not me.
He will not treat me this way, he can't live this lie and expect me to just overlook and accept it, I couldn't live with myself if I just ignored or forgave his betrayal. What example would this set for Teddy? His father is a cheating liar, and his mother has no pride or self respect.
So no, we cannot get past this.
As my thoughts roam wild, I continue to watch the ensnared pair, a thought occurs due to his actions and freedom with her...
If I did confront him... If I gave myself the chance... To listen and believe all his reasons and excuses... Would he even want to?
Would he want to explain how and why this happened? Would he even try and convince me to forgive him for what he has done? Would he plead that is was nothing, a mistake, that she meant nothing... Just to keep me?... I honestly don't know... He looks happy, carefree, more youthful than I've seen him in a long while that's for sure. So would he even want to give that up?... Give her up?
I growl with pain fuel frustration.
If he has her and is happy with her, why does he need me? Why does he touch me? Why does he tell me that he yearns for me? Why does he insist that I'm his entire life? Why does he sweet talk me? Touch me?... Why?
His words have always won me over, would I fall for his sweet words this time if he explained and tried to talk his way out of all of this? Probably. Then I would hate myself everyday for the rest of my life because of it. And that isn't going to happen.
I can't, and won't let him explain, I don't want to hear about it... I can't. So I will never know what brought him to do this with her. I will never get to understand why he needed her or comprehend what he was thinking, because I... Would never dream of doing this to him. I am his wife, he is my husband, my family and I love him. I would never cheat on him. I can't even comprehend how he could.
No matter how much I love him, is doesn't matter, they say once a cheater, always a cheater and what is love without monogamy or trust. He doesn't love me, not like I love him anyway. What I have seen him do today has been enough to prove without a shadow of a doubt, how little I really mean to him. How much he really loves me.
My last glimpse of the pair is of them kissing as Christian solidly kicks the bedroom door closed. It shuts with a final slam, knocking the last nail into the coffin that holds my now dead and buried marriage.
I don't need to see anymore, I don't need to witness their parting or see there lingering kisses and hugs of farewell. I've seen more than enough. It is burned into my retinas, etched into my brain and carved upon my heart. Never to be forgotten.
I quickly save the condemning footage to a memory stick and remove all history of it from my laptop. Once the stick is safely in my purse I head slowly to Teddy's room.
I don't want to be just running on autopilot as my thoughts and emotions battle internally. I could wallow and drown in the turmoil of my thoughts for hours by going over and over this, looking for rhyme or reason but it will do me no good. I need simplicity in my thoughts, I need calm in my being. I need to be with my son.
After a few hours of loosing myself in playing, feeding, bathing, and settling my son into bed, I can finally take stock of what I have decided.
To any onlooker, today has been a normal day, taken up with the enjoyment of my son, and it has, but all the while, a small part of my brain has been planning, plotting, preparing. As my decision is absolute.
I need to leave.
I need to get out of here.
I realize sadly that will not be easy.
Christian will never let me go, will never allow me to just walk out of here with his son, with a goodbye and god bless. It would be a bitter and hate filled showdown, and I will not put my baby through that.
Once I know that Teddy is settled and Gail is busy elsewhere, I head to my office and whilst picking up the phone, I take a deep calming breath. I call the one person who I know can get me out of here. The one person who will do anything to keep me safe. The one person I know that will know exactly what to do.
I call my father.
My father listens in calm silence, not offering his opinion or any type of comfort. He asks me one simple question once I've poured out my heart and soul and told him all the sordid details of my cheating husband, and failed marriage.
"What do you want to do about this Annie?" he asks simply,
"I want to leave and never be found" I answer quietly,
"It's done" he whispers,
"Dad" the word falls heavy from my lips sounding like a plea,
"I promise baby, I will never let him find you... When do you want to do this?" he asks efficiently,
"Five days, I want to leave... The day after our wedding anniversary" I close my eyes and control my sob,
"Oh Annie" my dad's soft voice tries to sooth,
"Don't dad, not now... Just help me" I beg, holding back my tears,
"Always, my baby girl... Give me an hour or two and I will ring you back, I'll soon tell you what you need to do"
"Thank you dad"
"Annie, the most important thing is to stay calm, don't give him any signs that you know or let him find out what your doing" he tells me urgently,
"I wont dad" I reply and my voice hold promise.
After talking to my dad I had a purpose, things to do and arrange. A distraction. Over the next few days I played my part. I kept my rage, hurt and disgust for him well hidden and contained. I played the loving wife to a t. I nodded and giggled in all the right places and played along with my phony life.
I faked my monthly cycle to keep my distance from him, and it wasn't so hard to do. Christian was hardly around to avoid, he was apparently working on a deal that would make or break his company... What ever. Honestly though, I was glad of his distance, because I was also working. During every free moment I had, I was busy aiding and planning my escape.
Following dad's instructions, I had started to squirrel away what I needed. I gathered together all of my jewelry from our safety deposit boxes, all the cash I could find and anything else small that I could possibly sell. I needed as much hard cash as possible once I left.
I can't afford to take anything that is traceable, my jewelry is easy to get rid of and my dad has already arranged a buyer for the more exclusive gems. Christian is very generous and has very expensive taste, so they should hold their value well and bring in much needed cash.
My biggest asset though is Grey Publishing, and after the lawyer that my dad sent visited our closest rival, he made them an offer that they would be foolish to refuse. A quick cash sale and a embargoed contract was quickly drawn up and put in place, and they readily agreed.
I didn't care what it cost me. I didn't care that I could have sold my business for twice the price, my only stipulation was that Christian, was not to find out for at least two weeks. Not that he could do anything about my selling anyway, it's mine outright. But still, I have to cover all bases and my back.
I have sold my two cars, and over the internet I have bought an untraceable heap. A heap of a car that would cause Christian to have a heart attack, if he knew I was even considering driving it but needs must, and plus... It's no longer his concern. My new car is not distinctive, it's bland in color and cheap looking but it's safe enough. And best of all... It's untraceable.
I bought a cheap pay as you go phone, which only my dad has the number to, we keep in constant contact and with his instructions and guidance, we plot, we plan and we execute. I tell no one about this, not even Kate, and over the next few days I gets everything ready, so that everything slowly falls into place and comes together.
It's the day before our wedding anniversary and I have nearly everything ready. Over the past few days, while Gail has been distracted with Ted or in her own accommodation, I have been removing from the house the few things I want and need to take with me. It's only small personal items, my old photos, my favorite books, small bits and bobs. I have taken nothing noticeable, nothing that will draw any attention to myself. Everything materialist can stay behind, I want nothing that will bring back memories of this life.
Every day that I've hit the gym with Kate in her apartment block this week, I have deposited a little bit more of my life, taken one tiny step further to freedom.
I cover my tracks well I don't want to be noticed, I want to slip away quietly and just vanish. I've even left my passport and driving license in the safe, so he will purposefully think that I'm still close by. Dad assures me the documents aren't needed, which makes me breath a little easier.
Thankfully, I have managed to obtain my most important documents from the safe. My marriage license, my pre-nup, my car registration's, all the Grey House deeds and contracts. Those documents have been with my lawyer for the past few days, while he and his team have been sorting everything. Including my last gift for Christian.
On the grounds of adultery.
I'm prepared to add a video of said adultery for any judge to ogle freely, if he decides to hinder or dispute this in anyway. Somehow, I don't think he will.
There is just one more thing I need to do.
A few hours later I prepare Teddy for outdoors and load him into his car seat securely, ready to run one last errand, which just so happens to be a pivotal part of my planned departure. Luke is driving us and has been sworn to secrecy about this trip, as he knows it's something to do with Christian's anniversary gift.
As the car cruises along and I catch Luke's eye in the mirror now and again, I keep my smile firmly in place. I don't even consider that Luke knows anything about Christian's betrail, he's my detail, spends no real time with Christian or Jason, so I'm living in hope that he's as oblivious as I was but only so I can face him everyday.
As we pull up in front of the art studio, I smile as I notice Teddy is fast asleep. I attempt to unbuckle his seat and carry him into the studio but Luke offers to stay with him in the car, which suits me perfectly.
As I head into the studio, my eyes scan the vast space and I can't hide or restrain me smile, this place is amazing. The works on display are outstanding and I can see now, how Christian was captivated so easily. Some of the paintings are beautiful and the artist is so diverse, still life, landscapes, portraits and private commissions.
My eyes rest suddenly on a large portrait and I'm captivated then sickened as I recognize the muse as Christian's new friend Jess. I'm draw towards it and study every line of her unmistakable beautiful face. Her eyes are blue and bright, her skin in glowing, her features are perfect and delicate looking. But what surprised me the most, is in the picture she has blond hair. Did she change it for him? With that though I grimace painfully because we do look so similar.
I notice a small tag hanging from the wall next to the picture, the word 'sold' in bold print written upon it. With a shaking hand I slowly turn over the card.
As I read the name, Mr Christian Grey, I hold my breath, trying to stop my face contorting and showing my raging emotions. I don't have time to dwell on this as I'm soon approached by the artist himself no less.
"Mrs Grey, so good to see you again" he gushes happily before pulling me into the usual phony air kisses.
"Hi Antonio" I reply with a forced bright smile.
"Your painting is ready I hope you like it, she's a very beautiful boat, I hope Chris... I mean Mr Grey, will be happy with it too, I hope I caught the true spirit and feel of the boat" he flushes slightly while rambling but I ignore his familiarity and reply,
"I'm sure he will your work is outstanding, after looking around I'm seriously considering commissioning another picture of my son, you're very good at portraits" my eyes rest on the painting of Jess and as his eyes follow mine I notice his deep gulp and I know instantly that they haven't been discrete.
"Christian, has raved about you since attending your exhibition a few months ago and now I understand why, you're very talented" I pile on the praise to ease him,
"You're too kind, you and Mr Grey" he mumbles,
"Nonsense, Christian has bought a few of your pieces which is rare for him, so be proud" I state, as he fidgets. I smile reassuringly, I don't want him uncomfortable, I notice his eyes flicker to the portrait on the wall,
"Who is she?" I ask with innocent eyes,
"Just... A friend of mine" he stutters "She sometimes works here and sometimes sits for me when work is slow" I nod eagerly, ignoring his worried tone and expression,
"She's very beautiful" I offer truthfully,
"Yes" he mumbles awkwardly, "I will get you your painting Mrs Grey" he nods and heads into the back of the studio,
"Thank you" I call after him. He returns moments later with a large bubble wrapped frame. He quickly undoes the bindings and proudly shows me the piece. It's wonderful, no disputing that fact,
"Oh Antonio, it's beautiful you have excelled yourself" I gush, his proud smile reaches his eyes, "You never mention this to Christian when he popped in did you?" I ask, hoping to trip him, into what I'm not sure,
"No... No, I haven't said a word, he doesn't pop in that much now, not since his pai..." his voice falters as he remembers who he's talking to and I smile brightly once again, feigning ignorance and ignoring his stumbles,
"Good, I would hate for my surprise to be ruined" I giggle playfully as he nods with a smile.
After re-wrapping and paying for my picture I say farewell and head out of the studio and quickly head for home.
As I hide in Teddy's closet, I add the finishing touches to Christian's gift. After making sure it is perfect, I wrap it securely and hide it at the back of the closet. Antonio has captured the feel of the boat perfectly and Christian will no doubt love it. The picture is a symbolic end to our marriage and a permanent reminder of his betrayal.
After an early dinner with Teddy and our usual bedtime routine, I climb into bed early myself, I'm too tired for pretense, I want an early night to avoid him.
I'm dreading tomorrow, half of me hopes that tomorrow, of all days, Christian will choose to stay with me, that we will spend our wedding anniversary celebrating as we always have. It would have been a different goodbye on my part, but it's wishful thinking I supposed.
Then the other half of me hopes that his absence will continue, to make this all the more easier. It's been hard trying to keep all of this contained, more than hard. I want to grab him, slap him, shake the truth out of him, but I don't. I hope his distance due to 'work' continues, in order for me to keep from doing that. With that hope in mind, I easily fall asleep.
As I wake on the day of our anniversary, I keep my eyes closed praying silently, pick me, pick me, be here today of all days, but I don't even need to open my eyes to now the bed is empty. There is no heat from entangled limbs, no sound of his steady breathing, no weight of him. I've woken up alone.
Despite my distance and hate fueled feelings, my heart still twists. I still hoped he would be here this morning to live our lie but he chose her on our wedding anniversary. I have never spent this day alone but I suppose the day means nothing now.
I roll on to Christian's side of the bed, wanting to breathe him in just one more time and as I nuzzle into his pillow my face falls onto something cold. I lean up onto my elbow and pick up the folded piece of paper that's resting on his pillow. I recognize Christian's elegant script instantly and my face is set in stone as I read his written words.
"Sorry you woke up alone today of all day baby, you looked so beautiful and peaceful sleeping, I didn't want to disturb you. It's unfortunate that our anniversary fell on a weekday, I just couldn't get out of my meetings today. I will try my damnedest to get home in time to dine with you this evening, but sadly, I can't promise. Enjoy today, my wonderful wife, treat yourself and think of me, as I will be thinking of you..."
And I can't read anymore. I scrunch the paper into a ball with my fist and throw it to the floor. As I climb out of bed, I notice a small jewelry box on the bedside cabinet with a card and flowers but I don't open the box or read the lies in the card. Instead I head for the shower and run over all my plans one last time. And after today, I know that what I'm doing to do is right.
The day passes predictably with Gail and Teddy, there has been no contact from Christian, well, I received a text filled with love and best wishes and an obscene floral arrangement arrived but apart from that, nothing in person.
After Teddy is settled in bed for the night, I gather everything for my departure tomorrow and leave it hidden in Teddy's closet. Most of what I need is sorted already, so in the morning I just have to grab my baby, my gym bag, my lap top and we're gone.
After a quick shower, I head downstairs with a book and prepare to spend the evening alone. Gail finds me in the kitchen looking forlorn and upset. She remains by my side, obviously sympathetic to my absent husband as we share a glass of wine and toast my anniversary. I nod and smile atomically as Gail praises my marriage and the love she see's between us. Is she as blind as I was? Or just a very convincing liar?
I want to confide in her, quiz her, ask her all the questions that are screaming in my head, but I can't bring myself to do it. I don't want to put her on the spot or forewarn Jason. Gail has been so good to me and Teddy, I want to leave here with only good memories of her. So after two glasses of wine, I thank her, hug her, and head up to bed.
Sleep doesn't come easily, my mind is racing and tormenting me, with endless inner monologues that I can't seem to control. My nerves and emotions are running wild, reminding me, that this will be the last time I ever sleep in this bed, under this roof. So it's no surprise that I'm still awake when I hear Christian finally come home in the small hours.
As Christian heads straight to bed by passing his office, he quickly changes his clothes and jumps into bed beside me. He pulls me into his arms swiftly, my back to his chest and buries his face into my neck. His soft voice gushes words of love and apologize, his words of promise to make today up to me, fall from his lips desperately as he slowly falls asleep.
I close my eyes and allow myself to just sink into his arms one last time, I just pretend for a moment that all of this, is just some bad dream. Some trick, that my mind has played on me but I know it's not. As I feel Christian's warm comforting breath on my neck, I can't fight it anymore and I finally allow the sadness of finality to wash over me for just a moment.
I feel my heavy silent tears run across my eyes and down into my hairline at my temple, I don't try to stop them. I let them fall freely for the man I've lost, the life I've lost. Part of me wants to stay and fight... But I can't... It would be demeaning and pointless because I know that I lost him some time ago. He hasn't been mine for a while.
I wake before Christian, slip quietly out of bed, dress without showering and slip out of the bedroom door. I head for Teddy's room and quickly prepare my sleepy boy for travel. Leaving him for a moment to play in his room, I head back to the bedroom, hoping Christian will still be asleep, his alarm doesn't go off for another fifteen minutes.
Thankfully he is and I use the final minutes before I leave just to look at him, to burn his image into my brain. My heart pounds and remorse floods me, my eyes start to sting and my throat tightens. Who would have thought it would end like this. Who would have thought that we would ever get into the position... After all we have been through... Where I had to run away.
I know I'm taking the easy way out by running but I'm not strong enough for anything else. I don't want to hate him anymore than I already do. I loved him so much, still love him so much, but I know that I can't look at him while he talks about her, I can't hear him say her name, I don't want to listen to his apologies or excuses. There is no excuse for what he's done.
I find myself automatically walking over to him and can't help but brush my fingers through his fringe, sweeping it clear of his brow. He stirs at my touch and I quickly pull down my pillow as his hands attempt to reach for me in the empty bed. His arms enfold it and he's away once again, murmuring my name before softly snoring.
I can't help myself and brush my lips across his brow. He murmurs my name once again and pulls my pillow tighter toward him and my insides twist at the sight of him. I need to leave, I need to leave now, before all of my resolve fails, before I fall into a heap into his arms and beg him to love me once again.
I need to leave... Before I give in and live a lie.
Turning on my heel fighting back my tears, I walk away from him for the final time and head out of the room. I don't pause to think about what his reaction will be when he finds out in a few hours that we've gone. I don't think about how he will no doubt treat Luke and Kate, and blame them somehow for all of this, he will no doubt need someone to rant and rave at, he will need someone to blame, but he only has himself.
Grabbing Teddy, I head into the kitchen to find Luke is already waiting for us. I told him yesterday of my early plans with Kate and thankfully it's nothing new or out of the ordinary, my spending time and exercising with her. After having Teddy, it was great to meet up and work out together to lose the baby weight and thankfully, it's a routine we have stuck to.
With Kate's building housing a gym and a pool, it's a perfect place to meet and catch up, what with both our busy schedules, young children and husbands, we could easily have lost touch as friends with being so busy, neither of us wanted that. Kate has a wonderful nanny, our kids get on great and love to play and swim together, so it's perfect.
Luke smiles his greeting as he takes Teddy from my arms so I'm now free to get something to eat or drink before we leave. I inform Luke it's not needed as I'll be having a late breakfast with Kate, so I'll be with her longer than usual and we should prepare to leave. Luke just nods efficiently and heads out to secure Teddy into my car.
As per usual, he follows us in a separate vehicle. Christian knows that I like to drive myself, Luke then has to await my text for escort duty home. The security in Kate's building meets Taylor's high standards, so Christian is pretty flexible about my coming and going from her place, which has been a godsend over the past week.
Picking up my laptop and gym bag, I follow Luke from the kitchen. Taylor enters the room and we pass in the doorway.
"Good morning Ana" Taylor sing songs merrily, I don't look at him, I can't,
"Taylor" is the only word I mutter as I leave the room.
I notice his reflection in the hall mirror, I see his eyebrow quirks and his brow furrows in confusion, as I've never once called him Taylor.
Once fully in the hallway, I bump into Gail and remind her of the favor I asked of her. She smiles brightly with her promise as we hug our goodbye. I cling a little tighter than I should but she doesn't seem to notice or makes a comment.
At the gates to the property close behind me I breath a sigh of relief, thankful that my escape went unhindered or prolonged. Luke follows close behind Teddy and I as we head for Kate's building.
Once I'm safely in the underground car park, he takes his leave and heads back home to await my pickup text. I wave and smile fondly after him as the car disappears out of view. I will truly miss Luke, he's been a good friend and as shadows go, he's been easy to live with.
As soon as he is out of sight, I remove the keys from the car's ignition and place them in the glove box. I send a quick text to the new owner of the R8, a friend from Grey publishing, confirming the pick up, then I quickly swap cars. When I bought my new car a few days ago, for an additional charge, I had the garage deliver it here, so it's been sitting unnoticed in the corner of the car park ever since.
Placing my gym bag in the trunk of the car, I add it to the contents of my life. I fix Teddy's child seat into the passenger seat and secure him in safely. He's fully awake now and chatters away playfully to himself and his stuffed animal.
Before I head out, I pull out my phone once again and text Kate canceling our morning get together. I can't speak to her in person, I couldn't lie to her. I just hope she's not too angry with me once she finds out what I have done. I have written her a letter trying to explain and plan to post it once I'm free from the city, so this time tomorrow she will know everything. With a heavy sigh followed by a deep determined breath, I start the car and leave the car park never to return.
Half an hour later I'm sitting in a booth of a diner, just before the freeway. Teddy is eagerly tucking into his breakfast and I'm trying to force down pancakes. I have in my hand an envelope, that was left here at the diner for me by my dad. It contains instructions on where I have to go, places I need to stop at to safely change vehicles. Things I must do and things I must avoid, but most importantly it contains my new life. I have a new driving license, passport, new birth certificates for Teddy and myself, everything we need to just start again.
I glance around the diner and notice the time on the clock behind the counter. I swallow nerously... It's time.
Pushing my plate of mostly uneaten food away, I clear space on the table infront of me and open up my laptop. I pull up the live CCTV footage to the house and see immediately, that Christian is in his office preparing to leave for Grey House. Christian and Taylor, are seat at his desk going through today's itinerary and last minute details. As instructed at exactly 8am, Gail enters Christian's office and hand delivers my anniversary gift.
I hold my breath as I watch childish excitement spread all over Christian's face, he accepts the package eagerly from an equally excited Gail. She smiles brightly at him and shares a look with Taylor as he swiftly rips away the paper. Once it's uncovered, his eyes grow wide with pleasure as he takes in the painting of The Grace. His face suddenly turns melancholy, and a slow smile fills his lips as he no doubt recalls the last time he was on that boat, and with whom.
Taylor's movement catches my eye, he stands quickly and ushers a confused looking Gail from the room. As he turns back to Christian, who is still lost in his painting I don't even think he noticed Gail leave, I notice Taylor frowning and say something he then points to the back of the painting. I feel my heart pound and a sheen of sweat covers my entire body as I watch Christian's every move.
As Christian turns the painting around Taylor steps back. I watch fascinated as Christan's eyes widen and his jaw physically drops, his smile now gone. I notice his body sag heavily into his chair as the realization of what he's looking at sinks in and takes over his face.
The photos I took of the two of them together on The Grace, are all pinned to the back of the painting, along with an envelope.
I watch him just sitting there he seems so calm. He doesn't move, doesn't appear to say anything or react in anyway. He almost looks catatonic. After a few minutes of Christian's blind staring, Taylor moves towards him. Christian, as if awoken from his stupor by his movements, starts to remove the photos from the back of the picture and after placing them into an envelope, he then puts them into his suit jacket pocket.
Christian slowly opens the envelope I addressed to him and as my wedding rings fall onto the table, I swear, I can almost hear his loud gasp. He slowly pulls out the contents of the envelope and opens up the divorce papers. I hold my breath while waiting for his reaction but his face is set in stone. His expression shows no remorse, no sadness, no guilt, only a frozen stunned expression, as if my actions and reaction to this has never entered his head. He shakes his head slowly from side to side looking totally... Flabbergasted.
He leans back into his chair and I stare as he unfolds the slip of paper I added along side the official documents. He reads it quickly then tosses it on to his desk. It is my last communication of any sort with him. My words were written simply, there was no begging for answers, no pleading for a reconciliation, no mention of lost love. It reads simply.
'We no longer exist to you... Do not try to find us'
I stare through teary eyes, totally transfixed, as Taylor picks up my note. After reading it, he obviously questions Christian but he doesn't get much of a response, Christan just shrugs slightly, still looking totally stunned. There was nothing more, nothing less. There was no screaming, no shouting, no urgency to find me, only Taylor running from his office. As I watch Taylor pull out his phone, my phone in my bag starts to ring but I ignore his call by taking the battery from my phone.
I concentrate on Christian, just lost and absorbed in his lack of reaction and I know that what I'm doing is the right thing. There is no going back now... There's no reason to.
I switch off my laptop and slowly close the lid. It makes a satisfying click as it snaps shut. Closing that chapter of my life.
As I leave the diner with Teddy chattering away in my arms, I toss my phone and laptop into a nearby Dumpster.
They're not needed or wanted anymore, that part of my life is over.
As of today... I am somebody else.
TWO YEARS AFTER LEAVING.
After leaving Seattle, thanks to my dad and his unknown friends. I now have a new name, new past, new life.
I am now Angela O'Neil. It's a nice simple name, a name that is familiar enough to catch my attention when said aloud, it's comforting. I now live in Louisiana, in a small unheard of town.
I live in the middle of no where, teaching kindergarten and I love it. Teddy, or Josh, as he is now known, is happy and healthy. We have a dog and a rabbit and I have made new friends. I have good neighbors, which happens easily in such a warm and small community and I love it, I feel safe and couldn't be happier.
Apart from a few key people, I don't miss my old life. I don't miss the city, the hustle and bustle, the stresses of everyday life. Nor do I miss my ex husband. And he is my ex husband.
The divorce wasn't contested in anyway, it went through quickly and quietly without a hitch, without me even having to appear in person. A couple of FedEx signed documents, to and from my lawyers office and it was all over, done, dusted, within a few months it was finalized and locked away to be forgotten.
I was free.
I didn't want a dime from him, not even child support and with my added embarrassing leverage of his infidelity on dvd, the document exchange was simple and swift.
I would never take a single dime from him, I could never let him provide for me. Everything I have is mine and mine alone and it may not be much, compared to the grandeur and expense of Escala, or the beautiful house we once shared on the sound but this is home now, and that means more to me than anything that the Grey mass fortune could provide, he can keep it all.
I can't honestly say that I wish all of this hadn't of happened, I don't wish for a minute, that Id never of met him, nor do I regret my time spent with him. Josh proves, that even for just a second, what we had was real. That it truly meant something. We loved each other enough to create a life, that surely must count for something... But then again... Maybe not.
No matter how far I went, no matter how much my life has changed, there are three people I could never live without.
My mom, she is still my best friend and I call and Skype her regularly, we have even met up, but I will never tell her where I am. She is the only weak link in my now perfect life and would be the first to crack under any type of pressure from Christian.
Then there is my dad, I could never leave him behind. My dad is my rock, my security in all of this, every time we call each other, or meet up, he reassures me that I'm safe. I would be lost without him, and will be forever in his debt.
My dad and Kate talk often, keeping up the presence to the Grey family that they are still looking for me. They are following up bogus leads, checking out false sighting on the other side of the country, but in reality, they are filling each other in. They're sharing stories, swapping snippets of my life through post office boxes and Fedex parcels. Swapped photos, letters, bits and pieces of our lives. It keeps me grounded, keeps me in touch with those I love, it keeps me feeling safe.
I know both of them without a shadow of doubt, will keep my where abouts secret, even under torture. So Kate and I have remained friends, were as close today as we have always been. With Kate's job allowing her so much travel, we thankfully meet up often. The only down side to this, is that I find out about Christian. Kate likes to rub his sorry arse in my face and give me all the gory details of his fucked up life. Kate's always been straight to the point.
Kate was so angry, when she found out what he had done to me. She was even more heartbroken to find out that I had just up and left. She was so upset because I didn't even talk to her, but I couldn't. I knew she would try and convince me to do things I couldn't... So I had to just go.
And I was right, Kate thinks that I should have done more than just leave. She thinks I should have hurt him and her, but why? It doesn't matter, it wouldn't have made a difference. My heart was shattered, my marriage was a lie, so what was the point?
I could have easily trashed everything, destroyed all our material things and ruined him but I didn't. It wouldn't of mattered to him. Christian would have simply picked up the phone and everything would have been replaced and sorted within an hour, without him having to do a thing. She urged me constantly those first few days to return and confront him, but there was no point.
Two weeks after I vanished, Jess moved into the house on the sound with him. She was also three months pregnant.
It broke my heart to know that they had obviously been seeing each other for some time, which only proved undoubtedly that I had made the right decision to leave him. I hate to think how this would have played out, if I had never gone to the marina that day and found out for myself. Would he have continued to live a double life of lies and secrets? Or would he have left me for her and her baby? I will never know, and I'm thankful for that, I left by my own hand, made my own choice, my pride and heart were still intact. Sort of.
Within weeks of the finality of our divorce, they married quietly, they had very few witnesses, no publicity, I don't think any of his family, apart from Grace and Carrick even attended the day, it was very different from our marriage.
Kate has told me how his family are split, some put up with Christian and his new life so as not to lose him, and to replace the grandchild they loved and lost. Poor Grace and Carrick, my heart is saddened by their loss in this, and who knows, maybe one day I will get in touch, just not yet. From what I can gather, most people keep their distance but endure the pair, when necessary.
Kate and Elliot haven't spoken to him since I left, not civilly anyway, they refuse to be around him. I'm surprised a little by Elliot's reaction to all of this but he loves Kate and he felt my pain through her. So he stands by my decision to leave and keeps silent and he will protect me too. I'm not sure how much Kate has actually told him but I don't worry too much about it. Christian has sickened and lost his only brother and Elliot hates his new wife, so he thinks he deserves to be without me and Josh.
Because from what I know through Kate, he is miserable with her.
What surprised me the most about all of this, was Luke, Gail and Taylor's reactions. Luke resigned on the spot after Taylor filled him in about what Christian and this Jess had been up to, and even though Taylor knew about the affair and helped cover it up, Gail didn't. So on the day Jess moved into the house on the sound, Gail and Taylor both resigned and moved out. Gail was heartbroken and couldn't bare to even look at Christian, never mind, forgive and understand. So Taylor followed her, he stood up and followed his wife... Which is more than can be said for Christian.
My dad informed me, that he never tried to look for me, he never hounded people for information, or tried to find me in order to bring me back. He never tried to hinder the divorce or contact me in anyway, not even for Teddy's sake and for that reason alone, I can't forgive him. I know that with his absence in our lives, my son will be a better man than he ever could.
Two months ago the new Mrs Grey left him, Kate reveled in telling me and my dad forwarded me, after he was tipped off by his man in the know. They had been watching all of Christian's key people that were digging about, an influx of trace searches for Anastasia, and Theodor Grey had brought up a lot of flags. Dads friends intervened quickly, burying the truth, closing them off, shutting there leads down, so I'm more than confident of my anonymity.
Welch maybe good, but my army and x-secret service guys are better.
So he can look all he likes, he will never find us, and I'm glad, for the time of me wishing that he would has long past.
Kate tells me that he's a mess, apparently their marriage has not worked from the beginning, it was never real, whatever that means. He has realized she played him, and she played him well, after she demanded half of everything and I mean everything. Christian had to sell all of his assets and divide, fifty, fifty. So he has nothing, Escala, the house, the boat, all gone, A sloppy prenup gave her the right.
Sadly, she also left their eighteen month old daughter with him, relinquishing all of her parental rights. God, what a woman, she must have been the best blow job he ever had to have gotten that amount of control over him. But hey, it's karma right?
Two weeks after she left Kate called me. Christian was asking, no badgering her, about needing to find me. Kate tore into him loyally and kicked up a fuss about losing her best friend, and he took the hint and left. But not before telling her, that he loves me, and only me, it's was always only ever been me.
He rambled on, and on about her even being me, but she wasn't me and tricked him. She obviously never loved him, she was only after his money and stature. And well, she got it. But who cares how bad he feels now, or how sad his life has turned out. He chose her, he fell for her, he believed her and wanted her, so I have no sympathy. My heartache washed it all away.
It may be heartless and cold but I don't care if he drinks him self silly, or cries, or begs or even pleads for forgiveness. He can spend all the time he likes with Flynn, it will never change anything. He lied to me on a daily basis for months and no marriage could ever survive that.
So he got what he deserved in my book.
Since then, he's not really mentioned, I hardly think about him. And in the middle of nowhere, it's very easy to forget him with no constant reminders. I don't even own a TV.
EIGHT YEARS AFTER LEAVING.
As I stand at the kitchen sink and wash up the lunchtime dishes, I stare out of my kitchen window into my back yard. I watch Josh kicking a ball back and forth with his brother Ben. They are practicing their soccer skills, they're both hoping to make it into the schools first team.
Josh is concentrating hard and I can't help but notice, how much he truly looks like his father. He will no doubt have the same effect on women as his father did and does and it's bittersweet. Josh may look like his birth father but he is nothing like him. My son is kind, considerate, gentle, patient, open with his feelings, but above all, he's honest. He would never hurt anybody, even at only ten years old he is so wise beyond his years.
He remembers snippets of Christan I think, long lost piggy back rides and soft piano music, but we have-not spoken about his dreams for a long while, so I hope they have stopped or he's finally at peace with the father he never knew. The father who he lost in a car accident when he was only two years old. I hate to lie to him but he must never know his father, he must never know where he came from. Who he really is. I will never allow his past to corrupt him, change him, and it would if Christian ever found us, his controlling ways would always take true center stage.
My set smile falters as I think of Christian. I'm still torn, even after all these years. I loved him so much and I know his love was returned even if only for a short time. The yearning and love I felt for him in that brief period of my life with him, still nips at me now and again, still wants to be heard, still burns, still rages. I have questions still screaming in my heart to be answered but I never give into it, nor will I ever. No matter how much I truly loved him, my love for him has turned into something else and I can't quite pinpoint what that is. I've buried him deep into a part of my heart that I never visit, I just know that I never want to set eyes on him again. I couldn't. I don't think I'm strong enough to face him, so I don't regret my decision to leave him, not for an instant. I can't.
I laugh softly as I watch with anticipation as their five year old sister Molly, unsuccessfully tries to sneak up on them with the hosepipe. I catch a look pass between Ben and Josh as they know what's going to happen. Josh plays along and allows the soaking before running after his sister. As he catches her, he pulls her into his arms and spins her round and around tickling her. I catch Jake's eye through the window as he tinkers with one of the boys bikes and we share a laugh and smile as we watch our family play.
I met Jake during parents evening at school, he had lost his wife to the local bad boy. They had been having an affair and ran out of town together one night. She left him with their only son, who was the same age as Josh, the boys hit it off instantly as friends, just like me and Jake. We had a lot in common, sadly.
We dated, married, and had our daughter. We have been married for nearly six years now and I wouldn't change a thing. I have a good life, a good man and I couldn't ever be happier.
According to Kate, he has never remarried, never had any long lasting relationships. He struggles constantly with his brat of a daughter, Kate's words not mine. She is constantly fighting for his attention but he has no time for. According to Kate, she is the living breathing reminder of how he fucked up the only true love he ever knew.
She has been brought up by a string of nannies apparently so they don't really have a good relationship. My heart does bleed for her, and him, she has to fight with ghosts for his attention. Kate told me, how his office at home is like a shrine to me and Josh. The walls are covered with our wedding pictures and Josh's early baby pictures he had nothing new, so dwells in the past. I can't do that, it still pains to much if I let it. Far too much.
I know he still looks for us now and again but he's never gotten close.
He will never find me and that's how I will always want it.
So as I scream my self horse every time Josh or Ben gets a touch of the football, I have no regrets. I can truly smile as I can't regret my decision to leave Christian and eradicate him from our lives in an instant, because we're happy now, free from control, rules and expectations, we have no security, no invasion of our privacy... No lies to live with.
Josh, is a happy well adjusted young man, he's kind, considerate, bright, he loves his brother and sister. But above all he's settled, just like me. I love my husband, he is a good man, a kind man. A man that lets me breath and make my own decisions. And I would never leave him.
No matter how much it hurt at the time to leave Christian, the crippling pain I felt was soon overtaken by new emotions as my life fell into place, it fell into a serenity that I never knew I wanted, or needed to be truly happy.
I don't regret for an instance leaving him. Leaving my life in Seattle. As my life now and since the minute I drove away from him, has been perfect and totally for filling in every single way.
I've survived, I've lived, I've loved, even without the mighty... Christian Trevelyan Grey.